‘Glasgow ESOL for Work’ write personal response to ‘Observing Women at Work’

As part of their Spring Break project, the ‘Glasgow ESOL for Work’ group of SQA National 3 and National 4 learners attended the ‘Observing Women at Work’ exhibition 30th & 31st March.

The ‘Glasgow ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Forum’ mission is to assist the integration, employability and personal development of asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants and marginalised black and minority (BME) groups by developing their proficiency in English Language.

The Learners were tasked to write a personal response/roles of women in work piece over the Spring break. Please click the images above to read a selection of the responses.


Daisy Sutcliffe, granddaughter of Helen Muspratt, writes about visit to ‘Observing Women at Work’ and the overlaps between Muspratt and Raffles

Daisy Sutcliffe is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow interested in UNESCO’s role in the mobilisation of creative practices around naturally designated World Heritage Sites, for example Giant’s Causeway and the Western Caucasus. Her grandmother, Helen Muspratt (1907-2001), was a photographer working in the early-mid 20th century across Europe and features in Franki Raffles: Observing Women at Work, which is open at the Reid Gallery until 27th April 2017. This article was published as part of of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Environmental Sciences newsletter.

Daisy Sutcliffe attended Franki Raffles, ‘Observing Women at Work’ at the Glasgow School of Art, an exhibition featuring some work by her grandmother, Helen Muspratt. Franki Raffles was a photographer based in Scotland working in the 1970s until her sudden death in 1994 aged 39. Her work documented the lives of women across Scotland and further afield. She was especially interested in Russia where she went for a youth club trip in 1971, and returned several times before her death. Here she found that the communist system worked for women, who, unlike in Scotland (and the UK more widely) at the time, could work on an equal footing to men, choose the work they undertook and be paid equally. Here her interests overlapped with Daisy’s grandmother Helen’s, who following her fledgling interest in communism went there in 1936 aged 29 and documented the lives that she saw including those of women at work. When her work became better known, thanks to the work of Val Williams and her 1980s television series about five women photographers of the twentieth Century, she claimed to find feminism bemusing. Helen was a remarkable woman, dropping her documentary and experimental practice a few years later when her first child was born so that her husband Jack Dunman could work for the Communist Party whilst she supported their growing family. Of note in both their work was the lack of objectification of the photographs’ subjects. This remained important to Raffles. Muspratt went on to specialise in portraiture and weddings, always trying to balance the human element with the frame and composition. The title of the book about her life, Face, Shape and Angle was her description of this. Daisy’s PhD, which includes a practice-based element, takes inspiration from this visual interplay of object and subject and record of visceral encounter.


Photograph: Helen Muspratt, 1936 Women at work in the USSR

From Sutcliffe, J. (2016) Face, Shape and Angle: Helen Muspratt Photographer. Manchester University Press

‘Line of Sight’, James Houston, Paul Maguire, Kimberley O’Neill and Jen Sykes

Line of Sight

‘Line of Sight’ was a group show by GSA Design School staff Paul Maguire, James Houston, Kimberley O’Neill and Jen Sykes, looking at the current perceived role of technology, and what relationship humans have with its future. The title comes from a term used in the theory of radio transmission to describe when a receiving antenna is just able to see a transmitting antenna.  The exhibition ran 19 November – 16 December 2016. This exhibition was selected from an open call to GSA students and staff for proposals for self-initiated projects.

Finlay Clark, a School of Fine Art student, was commissioned to respond to the exhibition. Please download his text here.


‘Line of Sight’ gallery installation, Reid Gallery, GSA (2016) Photo: Alan Dimmick (r-l), ‘Objects under Domestication’, (2016), Jen Sykes, metal, wireless sensors; ‘First Person Shooter’, (2016), Paul Maguire



‘Reboxing’, (2016), Paul Maguire, Software, Video, iPhone, Packaging, Dimensions variable

Extract: [Technology is a device, a medium, and more than ever a way of being. O’Neill’s video installation Mood Organ, (2016) vividly explores the rich dialectic of affective labour; saturated with visceral imagery of the eyes, it closely examines the body’s relationship to technology as they are put in close proximity with lapping fields of water.

O’Neill:        It’s really weird doing something at work for me.

–That’s the thing that’s totally thrown me.

[All]:          –Yep.

O’Neill:        –Because you relate to the role and stuff like that,   and I’m definitely a different person making my work than I am anywhere else.

Maguire:        Yeah you’ve got your professional life and then your…ultimate reality of art.

Myself:         –And now they’re meshing together…]


‘Mood Organ’, (2016), Kimberley O’Neill, HD video



‘Momento mori (Remember that you have to die)’, (2016), James Houston, LED Panel



‘First person shooter’, (2016), Paul Maguire, Digital print 105x116cm



‘blue=new black ();’, (2013), Paul Maguire & James Houston, 35mm slide projection, dimensions variable



‘blue=new black ();’, (2013), detail, Paul Maguire & James Houston


‘Do you love me yet’?’, (2016), Paul Maguire, Software, Projection, Kinect, Spotlight, dimensions variable



‘Choose your friends wisely’, (2016), Jen Sykes, Printed circuit boards


Comics: Art & Enterprise Symposium

On 18 May 2016 GSA hosted Comics: Art & Enterprise Symposium with speakers Frank Quitely, Yishan Li, Sha Nazir and Jason Mathis.


The first half of the symposium was spent discussing the medium of comics, its position in popular culture today, and its relationship with other mediums. This latter point focused mostly on the links between comics, television, and film given the recent string of adaptations from comics into these other art forms. Yishan Li spoke about her experience working on the new Buffy graphic novels – a reversal of the norm, as the movie and television series were then adapted into comics. Frank Quitely then talked about his experience working with Mark Millar on Jupiter’s Legacy and how the fact that it has been optioned for a movie did not influence the way that he approached his work. From that, the unique elements contained within the structure of comics were unpacked, such as the control of time, which the audience possesses in comics but is relinquishes in film. Additionally, the notion of comics being more ‘disposable’ (or, as Chris Ware has said, a ‘low-rent’ medium) was addressed, looking to see if this allowed for a more open approach to comics, questioning whether it enabled a greater sense of freedom and experimentation.

After the intermission, the discussion focused on the details behind making comics, the different approaches that were used by Yishan Li and Frank Quitely, and the Sha Nazir spoke about what it’s like to be a creator and publisher. Considerations of digital versus analogue were examined, both in terms of creation and dissemination, with many questions coming from the audience right until the end of the symposium, and then continuing on afterwards in the reception.

There was a pop-up shop that ran through the course of the day which sold work from students and independent makers. The GSA library also had a display of their ‘zine collection, featuring work from GSA, the rest of the UK, and beyond.



Frank Quitely began his career writing and drawing strips for the independently-published Scottish humour anthology Electric Soup before finding his first professional work painting Western and Sci-Fi strips for the UK anthology The Judge Dredd Megazine. He then worked mostly for DC Comics on a variety of shorts, mini-series, ongoing titles, and original graphic novels, including All Star Superman and the creator-owned We3, and on Marvel’s New-X-Men. He’s currently finishing the creator-owned Jupiter’s Legacy at Image Comics, and has several smaller creator-owned projects in the pipeline.

Yishan Li is a professional UK/Chinese manga artist currently living in Edinburgh, UK. You can see a list of her projects at www.liyishan.com. Yishan Li has been drawing since 1998 and has been published internationally including China, USA, France and the UK. She has worked for DC and Darkhorse and is the artist for the Buffy graphic novels coming out in June.

Sha Nazir is an illustrator and designer who has worked on a diverse range of books, from the critically acclaimed The Amazing Mr. Mackintosh through to Mega Penguin. As the publisher at BHP Comics he’s also responsible for releasing new Graphic Novels and Comics from industry legends like John Wagner to break out creators like Clare Forrest in addition to producing the successful Glasgow Comic Con, which last year saw over 10,000 attendees pass through the doors. He is the founding chair of SICBA, the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance. His first graphic novel Laptop Guy is to be released June 2016, and his newest book Comic Invention – which accompanies the Hunterian Art Gallery exhibition, Comic Invention: The World’s First Comic – is out now. You can see more at www.BHPcomics.com  

Jason Mathis is the Programme Leader for the Glasgow School of Art’s International Foundation. His own practice and research involves comics, having created and distributed his own work under the title ALL YOU CAN EAT, as well as working with local publishers in Glasgow on various projects. In 2013, he worked with Professor Ronan Deazley on the publication ‘Comics and Copyright’, and he plans on creating new issues of ALL YOU CAN EAT in the very near future.

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Photos: Alan McAteer

Supported by:

The Anatomy of Employability: Articulating Graduate Capabilities for the Creative Arts project fund, awarded to GSA by the HEA. (The Higher Education Academy).

The Glasgow School of Art Career Service


Review: ‘There’s a Special Place in Shell…’, Foote & Mouth

GSA Exhibitions invited GSA PhD student Dawn Worsley to review the performance, ‘There’s a Special Place in Shell…’, Foote & Mouth, 27 April 2016, Reid Auditorium, Glasgow School of Art. All photos of performance by GSA FAP student Jack McCombe:Shell1

The literal demonising of women and the feminising of mythological monsters is as old as patriarchy itself. Man born of woman, must gender his masculinity by quashing femininity. Women, wanton and insatiable, had to be controlled and their high-pitched opinions needed to be silenced. So women’s sexuality and their voice, and thus their power, was stolen, distorted and distilled into the form of supernatural females, as a warning to men and a reminder to women. But what potent creatures arose from masculine dread!


Kathryn Ashill and Monica Foote, GSA alumni, discovered their mutual affinity for folklore and began a collaboration to reclaim the banshee and the siren from misogyny and satirise a pop-industry populated by male producers and their fetishised fembot creations.

An animated nautilus shell spirals hypnotically, a whirlpool or a stairway to a watery hell, grinding like rolling storm clouds or cobbles on the shoreline, calling the audience to their seats.

Ashill’s banshee is a second-wave feminist with the potential to go postal. The banshee of folklore arrived amidst the sound of flapping wings, foretelling death, whilst the more vengeful sort, eyes burning with rage and sorrow, emitted a murderous scream. Ashill’s labour-pang owl-screeches sear the soul and I believe a prolonged banshee-wailing really could induce an aneurism.Shell3

Classical sirens were angry birds with women’s heads and breasts. Their appeal more auditory than visual, lulled sailors into a fatal sleep or stirred suicidal yearnings with their melancholic song. A coquettish neo-feminist, Foote’s siren is out to net herself some sea-faring menfolk. Turning to the audience, she puns, ‘It’s raining men … seamen’, raising a giggle whilst mocking that masculine suspicion that women are after one thing – their seed.


Reappropriated Motown arm-flailing, pop lyrics and samples subvert the sexualised and sanitised music industry. Foote & Mouth’s creations are not the 2D gendercidal bird-women of tradition. They are whole women, taking ownership of their bodies and voicing their own narratives.

Dawn Worsley (2016)

Below: Foote & Mouth publicity image


‘Hold Fast, Stand Sure, I scream a revolution’, Serena Korda

GSA Exhibitions is just back from the Isle of Mull after working with An Tobar (Comar), on a Glasgow International Festival project with Serena Korda. Korda developed her work over both rural and city locations of Mull and Garnethill, Glasgow. The residency at the two locations allowed Korda to respond to place and community, in order to evolve the work. After a successful showing at Reid Gallery, GSA, as part of the Festival, the exhibition has travelled back to its other source, on Mull.

Korda with this project continued her investigation into ‘thin places’ – anomolies in the landscape which were viewed in pre-Christian times as access points to the afterlife. In particular on Mull, she was inspired by an encounter out on a walk to the lost village of Crackaig and its ‘hanging tree’, where a witch was allegedly hung.

The mushroom became her starting point for entering these otherworlds.  Through foraging expeditions on the Isle of Mull, the deadly potential of some fungi presented themselves as possible pathways to ‘thin places’.  Korda handmade a magical field of porcelain mushrooms in the gallery.

In Glasgow, Korda was in particular inspired by the radical changes brought to Garnethill by different generations of women, including the Glasgow Girls, who had trained in the early days of the art school, to Glasgow Women’s Library, whose inception had been in 1990 as a reaction to a dominant male presence that they perceived in European City of Culture. As part of the exhibition at GSA, an archive room was created, to make these inspirations apparent, with loans from University of Glasgow, CCA, Glasgow Women’s Library and GSA’s own Archives & Collections.


In Mull, the natural forms of the sculptural installation became more apparent as a link to the particular island surroundings. A walk to Aros Park, near Tobermory, showed the mosses that Korda had gathered to utilise as the forms that would make the ends of the stalks of the mushroom bells. Korda had dipped the moss in porcelain, with it burning out and leaving its form in the firing process.

In terms of links to community, Korda formed a band particular to each location, in order for participants to play the sculptural bells as an instrument. At GSA, the group was made up from young teenagers and adults from GSA, Garnethill and the Royal Conservetoire. In Mull, Korda worked with Mull Youth Theatre. The music for both Glasgow and Mull was composed by Martin Low for this project by Korda. Low is a sound designer and composer living on Mull.


Korda’s own interests in creating sculptures that also can be animated as instruments, builds on her project of the Jug Choir, which has been played by different groups in Edinburgh, Oxford and Cardiff. Korda is inspired to create new rituals around the work she makes. Immersive sound for her is inspired by the rituals of ‘sound baths’, in particular a memorable visit to Joshua Tree in USA where she went to the Integratron, a ‘tabernacle’ and ‘energy machine’ located in the desert.

performance_tobarIn thinking of the gallery space as a place to visit, where works held within can impart a feeling, connection, or potentially series of messages or experiences to the viewer, the gallery becomes the tabernacle. The residency format, leading to exhibition, also allows the artist to make connections, much like mycelium, to different locations, individuals and groups in the surrounding area. Mycelium describes the threadlike part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, as represented by the criss-crossing rope structure across the ceiling of both the gallery spaces. The fungi or mycelium forms a kind of communication under the ground where the roots of different plants can be linked. The mycelium detects if there is a need of nutrients, or conversely if toxins are being brought into the habitat by ‘unwelcome plants’.

It was a natural point of departure for this work, like mycelium, to spout up in both Glasgow and Mull. Also for there to be many elements that talk to each other across this project; including archival room, the Mushroom Band participants in both locations; the vinyl single and Low’s binaural soundscape “I Have Met Them And They Are Us” (2016), which drew on the sounds of other communities including workshops with GSA choir. At GSA the role of the ‘agitator’ was created, through a call out to staff and students, asking them to learn to play one of the amplified mushrooms and come throughout the show run when they felt like it, to play in the gallery during opening hours.

Korda’s work has successfully tuned into both the communities of Garnethill and Mull.  Her show runs at An Tobar until 30 July 2016.